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Basic Interaction Design for Networked Artifacts

The premise of this project is to combine prototyping tools and techniques developed by Gähwiler (2015) with the basic interaction design approach developed by Franinovic (2008). Based on these works and other relevant research in these fields, our following research questions are: Can a system of networked artifacts express affordances, and if yes what would they be? Do interconnections provide a facility for design similar to the Gestalt theory for visual form? What kind of interaction attributes and design elements can be found and manipulated in such systems of networked artifacts? The basic methods, exercises and tools developed in the process should sensitize prospective interaction designers to different design aspects of objects and relations in such everyday networked ecologies.

In our approach we follow three consecutive steps: First, we analyze networked artifacts in everyday contexts; Second, we identify related materials, design elements and affordances; Third,we develop new concepts for networked artifacts using those materials and affordances. We tested this approach with our first year bachelor students in a course called “Object/Experience”. The first results allowed us to improve our methodology, but they also showed the difficulty of designing for distributed objects, especially for first year interaction design students. The second test in a “Physical Computing” course with second year students proved more promising. Here, we also used our tools to develop working prototypes. The analytical exercises and especially the tools for final prototype developments allowed students to quickly conceptualize and build something (see image). However, the process of designing networked experiences needs to be further supported and improved.

The outcomes of the project will be summarized in a “Basic IoT Primer” aimed at the design audience, including the design exercises, tools and methods developed in the project. It will be published online together with an archive of the courses and some example student projects.

Project team: Joël Gähwiler and Karmen Franinovic

Funding: ZHdK, Institute for Design Research